Flying V survived the pesky Centro Escolar University (CEU), 65-61, to extend its unbeaten run to 11 games after winning Game 1 of their best-of-three semifinals showdown in the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League Foundation Cup on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Gab Banal made a huge defensive stop with 6.1 seconds remaining to preserve the victory for the Thunder.
“During the crucial situation you have to assert yourself defensively. So, I think this game really boiled to the stops. The players were able to make the crucial stops especially Gab Banal on (Rod) Ebondo. Overall, we have to grind it,” said Flying V head coach Erik Altamirano.
The Thunder were up by nine points when the Scorpions unleashed a 7-2 assault to slice the lead to 61-63 with 1:20 remaining.
CEU had the chance to tie the game but Orlan Wamar Jr. missed his two charities, 21 seconds left while Banal drew an offensive foul on Ebondo with 6.1 ticks left.
Wamar sent Thunder guard Jerick Canada who sank two free throws that proved to be the final score of the match, 65-61, with 3.6 seconds left in the game.
Jeron Teng topscored for Flying V with 17 markers on top of his 13 rebounds and seven assists while Banal and Eric Salamat chipped in 12 apiece.
Congolese bigman Ebondo posted a 20-20 output of 20 points and 21 rebounds while Art Patrick Aquino contributed 17 markers.
The Thunder will try to sweep the series on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Flying V 65 – Teng 17, Banal 12, Salamat 12, Torres 6, Austria 5, Dionisio 4, Thiele 3, Canada 2, Paredes 2, Tampus 2, Colina0, Koga 0, Mendoza 0, Webb 0.
CEU 61 – Ebondo 20, Aquino 17, Wamar 9, Cruz 8, Jeruta 6, Casino 1, Arim 0, Baconcon 0, Fuentes 0, Guinitaran 0, Intic 0, Manlangit 0, Saber 0, Uri 0.
Quarterscores: 14-13, 31-32, 54-46, 65-61